Climate change threatens nightingale migration


This 2010 video from England is called Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos).

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office:

Climate change may be making migration harder by shortening nightingales’ wings

April 1, 2020

The Common Nightingale, known for its beautiful song, breeds in Europe and parts of Asia and migrates to sub-Saharan Africa every winter. A new study published in The Auk: Ornithological Advances suggests that natural selection driven by climate change is causing these iconic birds to evolve shorter wings, which might make them less likely to survive their annual migration.

Complutense University of Madrid’s Carolina Remacha and Javier Pérez-Tris and their colleagues analyzed twenty years of data on wing shape variation and survival in two populations of nightingales from central Spain. They found that nightingales’ average wing length relative to their body size has decreased over the past two decades, becoming less optimal for migration. Shorter-winged birds were less likely to return to their breeding grounds after their first round-trip to Africa. But if this change in wing length is negatively affecting survival, what is driving it?

The “migratory gene package” hypothesis predicts that a suite of adaptations related to migration — including a long wingspan as well as a higher resting metabolic rate, larger clutch size, and shorter lifespan — may all be controlled by a set of genes that are linked so that selective pressures on one trait also affect the others. In recent decades, the timing of spring has shifted in central Spain and summer droughts have become longer and more intense, leaving nightingales with a shorter window in which to raise their young. This means the most successful birds may be those that lay smaller clutches of eggs, giving them fewer young to care for. And if natural selection is favoring smaller clutches, it may simultaneously push nightingales away from all of the linked traits in the “migratory gene package.”

Natural selection on clutch size that inadvertently leads to shorter wings and, therefore, reduced survival is an example of “maladaptation”, where organisms’ responses to changing conditions end up being harmful instead of helpful. “There is much evidence that climate change is having an effect on migratory birds, changing their arrival and laying dates and their physical features over the last few decades,” says lead author Carolina Remacha. “If we are to fully understand how bird populations adapt to new environments in order to help them tackle the challenges of a rapidly changing world, it is important to call attention to the potential problems of maladaptive change.”

Greta Thunberg on coronavirus and climate crisis


This 30 March 2020 New Scientist video says about itself:

Greta Thunberg: We must fight the climate crisis and pandemic simultaneously

The world needs to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and climate change simultaneously, and guard against people who try to use the current crisis to delay action cutting carbon emissions, Greta Thunberg explains in this conversation with New Scientist‘s chief reporter, Adam Vaughan.

The Swedish climate activist, who revealed last week that she and her father had likely had Covid-19, said the response to the virus outbreak revealed societal shortcomings, as well as our abilities to change in the face of a crisis, but had proved they can act fast.

“If one virus can wipe out the entire economy in a matter of weeks and shut down societies then that is a proof that our societies are not very resilient. It also shows that once we are in an emergency, we can act and we can change our behaviour quickly”, she says.

‘Joe Biden may lose against Donald Trump’


This 10 March 2020 video from the USA is called Brace for Disaster in November: Biden Dominates on Mini Super Tuesday.

Joe Biden won many delegates in yesterday’s primary elections. If he will become the Democratic party presidential candidate, then he may well lose the November election to Donald Trump, like Hillary Clinton lost in 2016. Unless Trump does something unexpectedly stupid and Biden does something unexpectedly clever.

While Bernie Sanders might beat Trump.

It looks like the primary results are caused by elderly voters being over-represented. Young voters, who will have to deal most with the consequences of climate change, and who mainly vote for Sanders, were outvoted.

If Biden loses the election to Trump, then it will be four more years with climate disasters.

If Biden becomes president, then there will be no Green New Deal like Sanders advocates. There will probably be some small token pro-environment gestures which won’t hurt the profits of Biden’s fossil fuel sponsors.

Australian wildfires, climate change wildfires


This 15 January 2020 video says about itself:

Australia fires: Climate change increases the risk of wildfires – BBC News

UK scientists say the recent fires in Australia are a taste of what the world will experience as temperatures rise.

Prof Richard Betts from the Met Office Hadley Centre said we are “seeing a sign of what would be normal conditions under a future warming world of 3C”.

While natural weather patterns have driven recent fires, researchers said it’s “common sense” that human-induced heating is playing a role.

Last year was Australia’s warmest and driest year on record.

UK researchers have carried out a rapid analysis of the impact of climate change on the risk of wildfires happening all over the world. Their study looked at 57 research papers published since the last major review of climate science came out in 2013.

By Carolyn Gramling, March 4, 2020 at 12:39 pm:

Australia’s wildfires have now been linked to climate change

Climate-influenced temperatures raised the wildfire risk by 30 percent

Human-caused climate change made southeastern Australia’s devastating wildfires during 2019–2020 at least 30 percent more likely to occur, researchers report in a new study published online March 4.

A prolonged heatwave that baked the country in 2019-2020 was the primary factor raising the fire risk, said climate scientist Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, with the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute in De Bilt. The study also linked the extremity of that heatwave to climate change, van Oldenborgh said March 3 during a news conference to explain the findings. Such an intense heatwave in the region is about 10 times more likely now than it was in 1900, the study found.

Van Oldenborgh also noted that climate simulations tend to underestimate the severity of such heatwaves, suggesting that climate change may be responsible for even more of the region’s high fire risk. “We put the lower boundary at 30 percent, but it could well be much, much more,” he said.

This week, the southeastern Australia region was declared free of wildfires for the first time in over 240 days, according to a statement March 2 by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service on Twitter. The fires have burned through an estimated 11 million hectares, killing at least 34 people and destroying about 6,000 buildings since early July. About 1.5 billion animals also died in the blazes. Researchers are still tallying the damage and assessing the potential for recovery for many native plant and animal species (SN: 2/11/20).

The climate attribution study was conducted by the World Weather Attribution group, an international consortium of researchers who investigate how much of a role climate change might be playing in natural disasters. Given the quick turnaround time, the study has not yet been peer-reviewed. “We wanted to bring the scientific evidence [forward] at a time when the public is talking about the event,” said climate modeler Friederike Otto of the University of Oxford. Then the group examined how climate change altered the Fire Weather Index, an estimation of the risk of wildfires.

The climate simulations show that the probability of a high Fire Weather Index during the 2019–2020 season increased by at least 30 percent, relative to the fire risk in 1910. That is primarily due to the increase in extreme heat; the study was not able to determine the impact of climate change on extreme drought conditions, which also helped fuel the blazes.

Researchers previously have suggested that an El Niño-like atmosphere-ocean weather pattern known as the Indian Ocean Dipole, which was in a strong positive phase in 2019, may have played a role in exacerbating the dry conditions (SN: 1/9/20). Global warming may make such extreme positive phases of this pattern more common. The new study confirmed that the 2019 positive phase made drought conditions more extreme, but could not confirm this particular phase’s relationship to climate change.

“It is always rather difficult to attribute an individual event to climate change,” but this study is nicely done, says Wenju Cai, a climate scientist at CSIRO who is based in Melbourne, Australia. The link identified to climate change is reasonable, if not particularly surprising, he says.

The year 2019 was Australia’s hottest and driest since modern recordkeeping began in the country in 1910. Summers Down Under also appear to be lengthening: The Australia Institute, a Canberra-based think tank, released a report March 2 that found that Australian summers during the years 1999 to 2018 lasted longer by a month, on average, than they did 50 years ago.

Temperature observations going back to 1910 show that the region’s temperatures have risen by about 2 degrees Celsius on average, van Oldenborgh and colleagues report. The climate simulations underrepresented that warming, however, showing an increase of only 1 degree Celsius in that time.

Climate modelers previously have struggled to reconcile the disparity between recorded temperatures and simulated heatwaves: Simulations tend to underestimate the severity of the extreme events. The team noticed a similar underestimation in its simulations of the 2019 heat waves in Europe (SN: 7/2/19). Conditions not generally factored into regional climate simulations, such as land-use changes, may be responsible for the disparity. Changes in vegetation cover, for example, can have an impact on how hot or dry a region gets.

New international research has found a worrying change in the Indian Ocean’s surface temperatures that puts southeast Australia on course for increasingly hot and dry conditions: here.

How scientists wrestle with grief over climate change. Those who study nature are dealing with frustration and sadness over what’s being lost: here.

Florida, USA turtles threatened by climate change


This 27 February 2013 video from the USA says about itself:

Park rangers release rehabilitated juvenile loggerhead turtles at Cape Canaveral Seashore immediately adjacent to NASA‘s Kennedy Space Center. I got to help since I happened upon the event during a beach stroll.

From the University of Central Florida in the USA:

Sea level rise impacts to Canaveral sea turtle nests will be substantial

March 4, 2020

Sea level rise and hurricanes are a threat to sea turtle nesting habitat along national seashores in the Southeast, but a new study predicts the greatest impact to turtles will be at Canaveral National Seashore.

The University of Central Florida-led study, which was published recently in the journal Ecological Applications, examined loggerhead and green sea turtle nests to predict the amount of beach habitat loss at Canaveral, Cumberland Island, Cape Lookout, and Cape Hatteras national seashores by the year 2100. Sea turtles help maintain the coastal ecosystem and are indicators for the health of sandy beaches.

When comparing sea turtle nesting density with predicted beach loss at the sites, they found nesting habitat loss would not be equal. The researchers predicted that by 2100, Canaveral would lose about 1 percent of its loggerhead habitat, while the three other seashores will lose between approximately 2.5 to 6.7 percent each.

Although Canaveral’s percentage loss is smaller, the impact at this national seashore will be greater because of its nesting density.

“Canaveral is part of the core loggerhead nesting area for the Southeast,” says Marta Lyons, a preeminent postdoctoral fellow in UCF’s Department of Biology and the study’s lead author. “The nests are already pretty well packed in there, so even a small loss of area can have a big impact on nesting sea turtle populations.”

To determine beach loss at the study sites, the researchers used sea level rise and storm surge estimates and considered the effects of impervious structures along the shorelines, such as roads and buildings, in restricting natural beach movement. To do this, they developed a new method to calculate current and future sea turtle nesting areas that takes into account nesting data, beach length and width, and the impact of impervious surfaces.

Lyons says one of the goals was to create digital maps for the National Park Service to understand how sea turtle nesting areas will change with sea level rise and how resources could be managed.

“As the National Park Service thinks about future developments, whether that’s putting in a new lifeguard station or new bathrooms, this method of calculating current and future sea turtle nesting area can help them decide where to put them,” she says.

Sea turtles around the world are threatened by marine plastic debris, mostly through ingestion and entanglement. Now, researchers have new evidence to explain why all that plastic is so dangerous for the turtles: they mistake the scent of stinky plastic for food: here.

British Conservatives funded by climate denialist polluters


This October 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Watch the US stall on climate change for 12 years

It was once a bipartisan issue, but now one of America’s major parties [the Republicans] acts like climate science doesn’t exist. This is an updated version of a video we published in 2016.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Tories have taken £1.5m in donations from polluters and climate-denialists

THE Tories have taken £1.5 million in funding from polluting industries and climate-denial funders since the general election, official data has revealed.

Figures published by the Electoral Commission and in the MPs’ register of interests show a string of donations to the party from anti-environment groups in the last three months.

Under-fire Home Secretary Priti Patel is among the Tory politicians who have benefited.

She received £21,000 from backers of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a lobby group which works to mitigate policies against climate change.

Other gifts were given to the Conservative Party as a whole, which received £1.4m in donations from heavy-machinery firm JCB.

London City Airport also contributed to the Tories in the past three months, handing £12,500 to the 1922 Committee of backbench MPs.

In total, £1,488,478 has been given to the party since its landslide election victory in December.

Labour MP Dr Alan Whitehead said: “News that the Conservative Party is funded by fossil-fuel interests raises worrying questions about Tory sincerity on net-zero and the green economy.

Businesses rarely hand over money for no reason. The question for the Conservative Party is: what have these companies bought?”

The Greens also hit out over the funding, saying that no major party can be trusted to tackle the climate emergency.

Sian Berry, party co-leader and London mayoral candidate, said: “Money talks, but we cannot have business as usual in this climate emergency.”

PRO-TRUMP CLIMATE DENIAL GROUP FIRES STAFF The Illinois-based Heartland Institute ― an influential climate-denial think tank bankrolled by President Donald Trump’s far-right billionaire donors, has laid off nearly a dozen staffers amid financial troubles, according to three former employees. Heartland captured headlines last month for promoting a German teenager with ties to neo-Nazis as the climate denier’s alternative to acclaimed youth activist Greta Thunberg. [HuffPost]

British Conservatives fight wars, not global warming


This 12 September 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Costs and Consequences of US Post-9/11 Wars: Focus on Climate Change

As we observe another anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attack, Neta Crawford, political scientist and co-director of the Costs of War project, discusses the environmental impacts of the post-9/11 wars.

Although greenhouse gas emissions from war were excluded from country reporting during the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocols, a major consequence of war is increased use of fossil fuels. During this event, Crawford will share her recent research calculating the U.S. military’s greenhouse gas emissions associated with the post-9/11 wars.

Neta C. Crawford is a professor of political science and currently chairs the department of political science at Boston University. Her teaching focuses on international relations theory, international ethics, and normative change. Crawford received the Distinguished Scholar award from the International Ethics section of the International Studies Association in 2018.

Her research interests include international relations theory, normative theory, foreign policy decision making, sanctions, peace movements, discourse ethics, post-conflict peacebuilding, research design, utopian science fiction, and emotion. Crawford is also interested in methods for understanding the costs and consequences of war and is co-director of the Eisenhower Study Group “Costs of War” based at Brown University.

Co-sponsored by the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Monday, March 2, 2020

Military spending ‘is diverting much-needed resources from tackling unfolding climate catastrophe,’ says CAAT report

THE government spends more than twice as much on the military as on tackling the “unfolding climate catastrophe”, according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

In a new study published today, the group says that any loss to Britain’s status as a global military power does not pose an “existential threat to the UK and the world.”

Instead the research argues that the “first duty of government” should be to mitigate disease, natural disasters and growing inequality.

The report, Fighting The Wrong Battles: How Obsession With Military Power Diverts Resources From The Climate Crisis, is written by CAAT’s Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman.

It states: “It is striking that the maximum spending estimate for achieving the UK’s climate change targets is around the same level as what the government considers to be the bare minimum requirement for military spending.”

Mr Perlo-Freeman is the group’s research co-ordinator and former head of military expenditure at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

He said: “The climate crisis is not only an environmental crisis, it is also one of human security. It is already causing catastrophic damage and loss of life worldwide.

The recent floods have shown how ill-prepared UK infrastructure and government responses are today. As climate change worsens then so will the impact of floods and extreme weather events.

“If we are to make the changes that are needed, that means moving towards a vision of climate justice and sustainable security.

“We must focus on the real threats to human wellbeing, recognise the interdependence of security for people around the world, and ensure that our economic systems remain within the bounds set by nature.”

Shadow peace minister Fabian Hamilton will host a lobby in parliament today from 11.30am where CAAT will present the report.

Big pro-climate strike in Bristol, England


The Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate protest procedes through Bristol centre

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Friday, February 28, 2020

20,000 join Thunberg in school strike for climate justice

CLIMATE activist Greta Thunberg joined a crowd of more than 20,000 people today to take part in Bristol’s 10th climate strike.

The 17-year-old Swedish campaigner gave a speech to the huge rally before joining a rainy march through the city streets, accompanied by a samba band.

Ms Thunberg accused officials, government, and media of “completely ignoring” climate change and urged the crowd’s large contigent of schoolchildren to “be the adults in the room”.

She said: “Once again, they sweep their mess under the rug for us — young people, their children — to clean up for them.

“But we must continue and we have to be patient. Remember that the changes required will not happen overnight since the politics and solutions are far from sight.

“We will not be silenced because we are the change, and change is coming whether you like it or not.

“This emergency is being completely ignored by the politicians, the media and those in power.

“Basically, nothing is being done to halt this crisis despite all the beautiful words and promises from our elected officials.

“So what did you do during this crucial time? I will not be silenced when the world is on fire.”

She was joined in the pre-march speeches with a call for change from Mya-Rose Craig, also 17 and who last week became the youngest person to be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bristol.

The student ornithologist — whose doctorate was in recognition of her Black2Nature organisation which runs nature camps for children from black and minority-ethnic backgrounds — called for greater diversity in the climate movement.

She told the crowd: “We have to engage with all of our communities in order to properly fight climate change. An unequal world can never be a sustainable one.”

Protesters of all ages waved flags, placards and banners and chanted as they made their way around the city centre.

Police said around 20,000 people attended, while organisers estimated the number was closer to 30,000.

Ms Thunberg, who triggered the global school-strike movement by sitting outside of the Swedish parliament in 2018, said she was visiting Bristol because of its strong climate-change movement.

The city last year unveiled a 15 metre-high mural of her painted on the side of the Tobacco Factory venue.

Dr Patrick Hart, a GP and member of Doctors for Extinction Rebellion, said: “We’re speaking out to raise the alarm on the impending health crisis.

“As healthcare professionals, our code of conduct compels us to act promptly where we notice unacceptable risks to patient health, both now and future.

“Climate change is the greatest threat to human life worldwide, so we’re demanding our government take urgent action to address the crisis before it’s too late.”

 Greta Thunberg stands alongside fellow environmental activists for the Bristol Youth Strike 4 Climate protest at College Green in Bristol

Editorial: We need carbon-neutral production – with no compensation for corporations: here.

Like capitalism’s previous calamities, climate change hits the poorest worst: here.

Global warming Bezos’ Washington Post smears Sanders


This 26 February 2020 video from the USA is called Washington Post Desperate Smear: Bernie [Sanders] & Trump Both Deny Climate Change.

This is a half-truth, half blatant lie by the Washington Post.

The half about climate denialist President Donald Trump is true.

And yes, besides Trump, there is at least one (actually, more than one) other well-known person who is a climate crook.

That other person is not Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders, who has a better plan against global warming than any of the other Democratic party presidential candidates.

That other person is the richest man in the world. He is Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post and of Amazon.

Bezos, unlike Trump, does not run around screaming openly that climate change is supposedly a hoax. But his business empire contributes massively to it. Bezos is up to his eyeballs immersed in Big Oil. Bezos promotes wars, major causes of climate change and other pollution. Bezos finances right-wing pseudoscientists and politicians who do the dirty climate denialist work for him. Bezos tries to oppress, silence and sack Amazon workers who strike and speak out against Bezos’ contributions to global warming.

Right wing defeated in Hamburg, Germany election


This 21 February 2020 video from Germany says about itself:

Greta Thunberg joined by 60,000 at Hamburg climate protest

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed a crowd of over 60,000 people at a Fridays for Future protest in Hamburg, Germany on Friday, where she marched with the demonstrators to push local governments for climate change policy.

“I’m just so happy that we are here together despite the horrible events that took place the other day,” she told the crowd, referring to Wednesday’s deadly shooting in Hanau.

Thunberg began protesting on Fridays outside of the Swedish parliament when she was 15 to push her government to curb carbon emissions. Her campaign gave rise to a grassroots movement that has gone global, inspiring millions of people to take action.

The fight against climate change was a big theme in the 23 February 2020 Hamburg state election.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

German right-wing and far-right parties suffer defeat in Hamburg state election

25 February 2020

The Hamburg state election on Sunday gave a distorted expression to the widespread opposition to right-wing extremism in Germany. Four days after a right-wing terrorist attack claimed nine lives in Hanau, the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Free Democrats (FDP), the parties that formed an alliance with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) to elect the minister-president in Thuringia, lost large numbers of votes.

The Christian Democratic Union was hit hardest, recording its second-worst state election result in history, with just 11.2 percent of the vote. The only time the party received a lower percentage of the vote was in Bremen in 1951, when it secured 9.1 percent of the ballots. Compared to its 2016 result of 15.9 percent, which was its worst ever in Hamburg until Sunday, the CDU lost another 4.7 percentage points. The CDU’s best result ever came in 2004, when the party won 47.2 percent.

The CDU federal leadership responded to the electoral debacle Monday by calling an extraordinary party congress for 25 April to choose a successor to outgoing federal party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. The new CDU leader is likely to become the candidate to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor in 2021 at the latest.

The Free Democrats lost 2.4 percentage points, meaning the party narrowly missed out on being represented in the new state senate.

Actually, in the new senate there will be one FDP MP; down from nine.

With 5.3 percent of the vote, the AfD just made it over the 5 percent hurdle for representation in the senate. In 2015, the AfD took 6.1 percent.

The Social Democrats (SPD) emerged as the strongest party, with 39 percent of the vote. But with a 6.6 percentage point decline in its vote, the SPD suffered the biggest drop of any party. Nonetheless, it celebrated the result as a victory. Polls several months ago had projected much larger losses, and the SPD at the federal level is currently polling at just 14 percent.

The biggest winners were the Greens, who increased their vote from 12.3 percent to 24.2 percent. The Left Party also recorded a slight increase of 0.6 percentage points, finishing with 9.1 percent of the vote. Voter turnout was relatively low at 63.3 percent, but this was still a significant increase from 2015, when just 56.5 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.

The Greens were able to benefit from being perceived as opponents of the AfD … . Among first-time voters, aged 16 to 21, the Greens were by far the strongest party, finishing with 35 percent, compared to the SPD’s 24 percent and the Left Party’s 12 percent. Among this group, the AfD received just 3 percent.

The Greens also benefited from the urgency of the climate change issue. Two days prior to the election, Fridays for Future organised a large demonstration attended by Greta Thunberg from Sweden. The police estimated the crowd at 20,000, while the organizers said 60,000 attended.

By contrast, the SPD is largely a party of retirees. It obtained its best result, 59 percent, among voters over the age of 70.

Hamburg has long been considered an SPD stronghold. Since the end of World War II, the SPD has always held the position of mayor, apart from 1953-1957 and 2001-2011. The Hamburg SPD was typically more right-wing than the federal party and enjoyed the backing of the city’s bourgeoisie.

The party’s dominant figure for many years was Helmut Schmidt, who as German chancellor in 1975 initiated the turn towards gutting public spending and social services that has continued until today, and enforced NATO’s decision to station nuclear-capable intercontinental missiles in Germany in the face of widespread opposition in 1979.

Peter Tschentscher, the outgoing and incoming mayor, took over the post two years ago from Olaf Scholz, who joined the federal grand coalition government as finance minister and vice-chancellor and has implemented the same strict austerity agenda as that imposed by his predecessor Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) ever since.

Scholz ordered a ruthless police crackdown against anti-G20 protesters in July 2017 and initiated a European-wide campaign against alleged “left-wing extremists”, which put several young people behind bars for acts of petty crime.

The Greens, who have governed in a coalition with the SPD over the past five years, supported all of this. Deputy Mayor Katharina Fegebank, who led the Green Party’s campaign, explicitly endorsed the police intervention to impose the return of AfD founder Berndt Lucke to Hamburg University in the face of student resistance. She condemned the student protests against Lucke as “injustice in its purest form”.

The Greens are a party of the privileged middle class. The party gained most in well-off inner-city neighbourhoods, as well as some districts associated with alternative lifestyle milieus. In some wealthy areas, they beat the SPD to become the strongest party. However, they won little support among workers and poorer sections of the population.

The Greens’ reputation as an environmentally friendly, democratic party is a myth. In the state of Hesse, where the terrorist attack in Hanau and the murder of Kassel District President Walter Lübcke took place, and where neo-Nazi groups are closely intertwined with the intelligence service, the Greens have governed in a coalition with the CDU for five years and helped conceal the right-wing conspiracy within the state.